Taking Congress's Words Seriously: Towards a Sound Construction of NEPA's Long Overlooked Interpretation Mandate

23 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009

Date Written: February, 16 2009

Abstract

This Article analyzes subsection 102(1) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which directs that "to the fullest extent possible, the policies, regulations, and public laws of the United States shall be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies set forth in this chapter." After a discussion of the plain language and the (pithy) legislative history of this often overlooked yet nonetheless significant congressional mandate, the Article examines the substantive policies that NEPA sets forth as a guidepost for regulatory and statutory interpretation and implementation. It also focuses on whom the subsection applies to and the likely meaning of the phrase "to the fullest extent possible." Finally, drawing for illustration on a recently decided United States Supreme Court case, National Ass'n of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, the Article explores the rich potential of this portion of NEPA as a mechanism for illuminating and harmonizing the requirements of federal environmental statutes.

Keywords: NEPA,federal environmental statutes

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Mintz, Joel A., Taking Congress's Words Seriously: Towards a Sound Construction of NEPA's Long Overlooked Interpretation Mandate (February, 16 2009). Environmental Law, Vol. 38, 2008, NSU Shepard Broad Law Center Research Paper No. 09-002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1344615

Joel A. Mintz (Contact Author)

Nova Southeastern University ( email )

3301 College Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
United States

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